Last week, many credible websites were talking about the Miracle Machine, a $499 doohickey that would turn water into wine on your kitchen counter in three days. The concept was unappealing to me. Half a grand for a machine that you would have to babysit for three days to make wine when there are lots of great $10 bottles from sustainable wineries out there that are ready as soon as I pop the cork? Why would I bother? I also wondered what type of chemicals you’d have to dump into the machine to get the miracle wine.

Turns out, it was all a hoax. The Miracle Machine that Mashable, Time, Esquire, and yes, even MNN wrote about was actually a marketing stunt for a non-profit aid organization called Wine to Water.

The organization can’t turn water into wine, but it's hoping it can turn wine into water. For every bottle of commemorative “MM” wine bought, the non-profit says ten lives will be saved through Wine to Water’s work around the world.

The True Miracle from The Miracle Machine on Vimeo.

In an interview with Los Angeles Times, Kevin Boyer said he would perpetrate the hoax “100 times over again….if it saves one extra life.” Boyer, along with Philip James, owns CustomVine. The business partners lend their credibility to the Miracle Machine because they believe in Wine to Water's cause.

The 7,000 people who signed up on the Miracle Machine’s website to get more information about how they could get their own will be getting a request to donate money to Wine to Water through the purchase of the MM wine.

Now that the truth is out, we’re left with a few questions. Should the charitable organization be able to use the emails they obtained through a hoax as a contact list of possible donors? Does the end justify the means? Would Jesus be okay with this organization co-opting his first public miracle to raise money for the poor? If you were one of the 7,000, would you be buying the wine? Even if you’re not one of the 7,000, does this publicity stunt impress you enough to entice you to donate?

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Miracle Machine is a hoax. Jesus is still the only one who can turn water into wine
Wine to Water hopes that people will participate in the real miracle – providing clean water to people in need around the world.